Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban has a laugh during the team's practice Wednesday, May 1, 2013 in Brossard, Que. Subban, Pittsburgh Penguins Kris Letang and Minnesota Wild's Ryan Suter have been named finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given annually to the top defenceman in the NHL. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Montreal Canadiens blue-liner P.K. Subban has been named a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given annually to the top defenceman in the NHL.
Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild were also named finalists Tuesday. Each is a Norris Trophy finalist for the first time.
Subban topped NHL defencemen in scoring with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) in 42 games this season. The 23-year-old Toronto native also led all blue-liners in power-play scoring with 26 points (7-19) and ranked second on the Canadiens in points, plus-minus (plus-12) and average ice time per game (23:14).
"He's a young defenceman who improves a lot," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "He's only 23 years old. (He's made) a nice progression. We like the way that he's playing for us. He's a lot more dependable that he was a few years ago, and that's a good sign. He's getting better and better and (the nomination) is well deserved."
Subban's achievements are impressive, especially considering missed the first six games of the season while getting a two-year contract signed and needed some time to find his legs and adapt to Therrien's system.
"It's great for him. I think he deserves it. He had a fantastic year," fellow Canadiens blue-liner Josh Gorges said. "I think with everything that went on at the start of the year he really came with a good attitude. He wanted to prove he's an elite player and I think the way he played this year, he proved it."
Letang finished second in the scoring race among NHL defencemen despite missing more than a quarter of the season. The 26-year-old Montreal native had 38 points (5-33) in 35 games and was the only NHL blue-liner to score at a point-per-game rate.
Suter, a 28-year-old native of Madison, Wis., led all NHL players in average ice time per game (27:16). He ranked second among NHL defencemen in assists (28) and third in points (32).
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers'Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season. The winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
The finalists for the Vezina Trophy (top goaltender) will be announced Wednesday.
—With files from sports reporter Joshua Clipperton in Ottawa.